Founded in 2020 by three pioneering women, Black Paper Party is on a mission to spread joy and foster inclusivity by creating cheerfully seasonal products that authentically represent diverse communities.
Co-founders J’Aaron “Jae” Merchant, Jasmine Hudson, and Madia Willis, noticed a significant lack of holiday decorations and wrapping paper depicting Black families and experiences. Frustrated yet inspired by this gap in the market, they launched Black Paper Party to introduce more Black representation into the festive imagery seen during the holiday season.
The Origins of Black Paper Party
The three founders of Black Paper Party brought together over 25 years of combined retail, product development, creative design, and illustration experience.
J’Aaron “Jae” Merchant serves as Chief Creative Officer. A Caribbean illustrator and animator originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Jae has a background in children’s literature, animated film, and television. Her passion is using visual storytelling and digital media to showcase diverse representation. Jae has illustrated several published children’s books and worked with major companies including Disney, Sesame Street, and PBS Kids. She earned her BFA from Savannah State University and studied animation at the Savannah College of Art & Design. Jae is also a co-founder of Black-Owned NWA, an organization that highlights and amplifies Black-owned businesses and resources in Northwest Arkansas.
The company’s Chief Merchandising Officer is Jasmine Hudson, an entrepreneurial retail professional accomplished at developing, launching and scaling major national brands and products. Raised in Cincinnati, Jasmine earned her degree in e-commerce and supply chain management from Tennessee State University. She then began working at Walmart, holding positions in merchandising, buying and financial planning for categories generating over $2.3 billion in annual sales. Like Jae, Jasmine is also a co-founder of Black-Owned NWA.
Rounding out the founding trio is Madia Willis, who serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Black Paper Party. A textile designer and entrepreneur originally from Washington, D.C., Madia studied abroad in Ghana where she launched a clothing line before returning to the U.S. to study textile design at prestigious institutions such as Drexel University and Philadelphia University. Her professional career includes textile design work for Target and creative direction at the retail giant, along with product development and sourcing roles launching major brands at companies like Walmart and Five Below.
The Vision Behind the Brand
During a brainstorming session, Jae, Jasmine and Madia noticed the stark lack of holiday décor and wrapping paper celebrating Black families and culture. Realizing the immense spending power of African American consumers during the holiday season, the founders spotted a viable gap in the market. They initially tested selling designs online using Print on Demand before officially incorporating Black Paper Party in September 2020.
As conveyed on the company’s website: “Why should the elves, Santas, and fireside families on gift wrapping paper always look the same?” Black Paper Party’s vision was clear from the start – to introduce joyful and inclusive wrapping paper, ornaments, home goods and other holiday products depicting Black families. Every unique illustration and product offering embodies this spirit of representation, belonging and authenticity.
Black Paper Party has received countless touching stories of children seeing themselves reflected in the wrapping paper designs for the first time. Fostering this sense of true representation brings the founders tremendous pride and motivates them to keep expanding the company’s offerings. They take pride in creating merchandise that deeply resonates with their loyal customers.
Early Success and Accolades
Within only a couple years of existence, Black Paper Party’s products have earned impressive accolades and media coverage. Notably, the co-founders won first place at Macy’s prestigious Vendor Pitch Competition in 2022, claiming the $100,000 business grant top prize. This high-profile award and other honors such as the Amazon Black Business Accelerator Award validate Black Paper Party’s products and social impact mission.
The company has also been featured by major media outlets including the Today Show, Kelly Clarkson Show, Bloomberg, Black Enterprise, Essence, Ebony, Huffington Post and more. Their beautiful, culturally-relevant designs clearly resonate with consumers and retailers alike. As Black Paper Party continues gaining momentum, they look forward to spreading more holiday cheer and Black pride to homes across America.
Offerings That Delight, Inspire and Celebrate
True to its founding mission, Black Paper Party offers a growing range of festive products celebrating Black culture and representation. Their flagship wrapping paper and gift bag collections depict beautifully illustrated modern Black families, Santas, Christmas angels and more.
Complementing these flagship paper goods is an assortment of keepsake holiday decorations and ornaments plated in 24 karat gold, stylish greeting cards for all occasions, festive gift tags and stickers, and seasonal home decor items. Whimsically dubbed “gnomies,” some designs showcase Black garden gnomes decked out for Christmas.
In addition to classic motifs like nutcrackers and decorated trees, Black Paper Party also pays tribute to retro aesthetics with their Soul Christmas 2023 collection. These 1970s-inspired gift bags and wrapping paper patterns add a funky, nostalgic twist perfect for holiday celebrations.
Beyond wrapping essentials, the brand continually expands other novelty holiday ranges annually. Coming soon are stunning ceramic tableware and stockings for the mantle, both injecting sophisticated flair into holiday décor. Another hot new 2023 lineup is the metallic gift wrap series with eye-catching foil finishes.
Major Retail Partnerships
While BlackPaperParty.com offers the complete collection online, the brand has partnered with numerous top retailers to make their products more accessible nationwide. Through these prime brick-and-mortar and e-commerce outlets, Black Paper Party can reach wider audiences with quality, inclusive holiday goods.
Select merchandise is available in-store and online via distribution deals with retail titans like Walmart, Target and Macy’s. Other big-name partners selling Black Paper Party collections in 2023 include Dollar General, CVS and Family Dollar. In addition to wrapping paper, bags and ornaments, some retailers will offer exclusive Black Paper Party collections such as Walmart’s holiday home fragrance line and Target’s new “Mudcloth Christmas” gift bags.
The Future Looks Bright
In just a few short years, Black Paper Party has made remarkable progress toward its goals. Thanks to the founding trio’s creative vision, retail savvy and relentless drive, the company has achieved widespread visibility, endorsement from major retailers, and validation from respected institutions like Macy’s. As Black Paper Party ventures into new product categories and distribution channels, the possibilities seem endless for brighter, more inclusive holiday seasons ahead. No matter how much they grow, the team promises to stay true to the original spirit of representation, belonging and joy for all families.